The Threefold Movement of Discipleship to Jesus

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November 1, 2020

John 16:12-18

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”

CONSIDER THIS

“In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”

There was never going to be an easy way for Jesus to do this—to explain the eternal verities and incomprehensible mysteries of his presence in the midst of his absence to his disciples. I’m convinced it’s why he spent the first two years, eleven months, and twenty-seven days (give or take) working to develop them into the kind of people who were capable of friendship with God. Becoming the kind of person who can be a friend of Jesus is no small thing.

As we have discussed prior, this is what discipleship is all about—embracing our adoption as sons and daughters and growing to trust in God as a good Father; being trained to imitate Jesus in the humble way of a servant and learning to walk in friendship with Jesus in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

This is the outline of what I’m calling the threefold movement of discipleship to Jesus. It is as comprehensive as it is simple, yet it it inspires a million questions.

At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”

This is what the disciples of Jesus do. They put down pretense, confess their ignorance, and ask one another questions in order to grow in their faith and understanding.

They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’?”

Maybe the biggest insight to be had here is this one. We cannot hope to become the friends of Jesus apart from becoming the friends of one another. It takes the context of real friendship to lay aside our need to know it all and to be right and to be someone other than who we really are. Only friends can make this admission to one another,

“We don’t understand what he is saying.”

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who trains us as servants and transforms us as friends. Give us the humility to be honest about what we don’t understand and the courage to ask one another. Teach us the way of friendship with a few others that we might grow together as disciples in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Where do you find yourself in this discipleship journey—trusting the good Father, imitating Jesus the servant, friendship with Jesus in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit? Is this helpful?

2. What kind of people must we become to enjoy friendship with Jesus? With one another?

3. Why is it hard for us to admit to one another that we do not understand?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

1 COMMENT

  1. In answer to question #1; I believe I’m somewhere between the the beginning stages of true discipleship and reflecting the mature image of Christ in me. This whole exercise of self examination helps me better understand what Jesus really meant when he said “ you must deny yourself, pick up your cross daily and follow me.” To become the type of people who fit the profile you’ve described, requires that we die to our old selves and become a new humanity formed into the image of Christ. This will cause us to admit to one another that we don’t have all the answers up front, but walk by faith and not by sight.

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